By Jeff Rabjohns
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, October 23, 2006
INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 22 -- Jake Scott knows good running backs.
The Colts tackle blocked for former NFL rushing leader Edgerrin James and now is seeing the emergence of James's projected replacement, rookie Joseph Addai.
"He's a beast. He's a great player. You can see it," Scott said after Addai rushed for a career-high 85 yards in the Colts' 36-22 victory over the Redskins at the RCA Dome on Sunday.
"He's going to be a great one. It's just fun to be blocking for him."
After the Colts let James go as a free agent following last year, they drafted Addai out of LSU with the 30th pick. The Colts had Dominic Rhodes, but Rhodes wasn't projected as a full-time back.
Addai and Rhodes have shared time at tailback so far this season, but it was Addai who helped spark the Colts' 20-point third quarter that turned around the game.
Addai, averaging 54 yards per game before Sunday, had 64 yards on seven carries in the third quarter, including a 21-yarder, the Colts' longest rush of the season.
"He's getting used to running behind us, the way things open up in this offense," Scott said. "He's improving a lot because of that."
Addai, who rushed for 2,576 yards in college, admitted the Colts' scheme, based around Peyton Manning's passing and play-action fakes, took some time to learn.
"When I first came in, they made a lot of calls at the line," Addai said. "I knew where I was going, but I didn't understand what they were saying. Now I'm starting to understand where the blocks may be, how I can set up some of the blocks and things like that."
Jeff Saturday, the Colts' starting center since 2000, said he sees a lot of the ingredients necessary for a good NFL back in Addai.
"He's seeing the holes, and he's hitting them hard, which always makes it easier on linemen," Saturday said. "He's willing to go in there and take on the hole and get as many yards as he can."
Rhodes, considered the starting tailback, entered the game as the Colts leading rusher with 273 yards to Addai's 269.
On Sunday, Addai outgained Rhodes by 59 yards and averaged 7.7 yards per carry to Rhodes's 2.0.
The Colts averaged 4.4 yards per rush Sunday, bettering their 3.8 mark entering the game.
"It's going to be what it is, and Joseph had a good day," Colts Coach Tony Dungy said of the running game. "Joseph's a good back. Dominic is a good back. Sometimes it's going to break for one guy, sometimes not for the other guy. A lot of times, it's the [defensive] looks we're getting. I'd like them both to get more carries."
As a replacement when James was injured in 2001, Rhodes rushed for 1,104 yards, becoming the first undrafted free agent in NFL history with 1,000 yards rushing in a season.
But Addai is seen as the more promising player and the heir apparent to James.
"That's not something that's on my mind as long as I get out there and play and as long as I can produce and be a big part of the team," the 5-11, 214-pound Addai said. James "is a great back. I've been watching him since I was in high school. For somebody to say something like that, I feel really good. But it's going to be a while before somebody can say that I'm that type of back."